Depression is a strange thing.
I’ve tried at several points to capture some sense of it in words, but nothing’s ever quite fit. Whenever I do, I find myself using a lot of ellipses, just to fill in, textually, my fumbling for words with enough meaning. I’ll come up with, “I dunno. My brain just isn’t all me. Like… It’s something else. It’s there and exerts influence on me life, but it spends an inordinate about of time trying to destroy me.”
Or poetry. I’ve tried to throw that at depression, too, but it just comes out sounding stilted and weird. I wind up talking about fire a lot. Fire and geese, for some reason.
Which is nonsense, really, but each in such a way that seems to cover at least one small corner of depression.
Depression is big. It’s vast and terrible and empty. Completely empty, and there you are, in the middle of it, feeling bad.
There’s just no sense to it. No sense in trying to describe nothing. A “nothing” which is also nonsensical.
And yet I keep trying.
Much of my early writing — that is, writing for fun — was borne out of depression. [adjective][species] was just a blog, the name just a play on a trend in character naming in furry, but the writing was a piece of myself. Each post was a tiny rock to throw at this vasty nothingness in an attempt to find the edges. Justifying the things I like, delineating the craziness of the furry subculture, gushing about gender (I know, I’m sorry, I did that a lot), these were all ways for me to pound my fists against nothing at all.
A scant five months after I started the site, I crashed hard and tried to commit suicide, and after that, I just buried myself in it — in the site and in furry. I found ways to get even furrier, if that was possible, just to try and fill that big ol’ nothingness.
I splashed around in great heaps of data, scrabbling at every pebble of knowledge I could find beneath the surface.
I prowled through the tangled thicket of FA and Weasyl, hunting for artists to highlight.
And I took way too many metaphors way, way too far.
And you know what? It worked.
At least, after a fashion. I started to feel fulfillment. I started filling my weekends with writing. I got in trouble with JM for writing an article on a tablet in a plane just so that I could get it up on a Wednesday. I started to gain energy just from the act of spending energy on something I loved wholeheartedly.
I was also tackling depression in more tangible ways, of course. I started on meds and dug into the task of finding something to help make that nothingness more livable. Meds, after all, don’t just sweep it away, and they certainly don’t make me any less myself, but they do help me perceive where I am. They’re a fine set of glasses for helping me see which things I’m burning myself up over are real, and which are just phantoms in that empty space — Makyo, after all, means ‘ghost cave’.
I started transition, too, which helped improve my life in so many ways that I
could did write a several essays about it. I won’t gush about it too much more, here.
Not all of this flailing was healthy, natch. I burned the shit out of my arms and legs because at least that’d set up a bright magnesium flare in the center of all that nothing. I started drinking heavily, because that’d soften the edges of nothing and feather them into shadow. I started withdrawing from friends because they weren’t there in the nothing with me.
And it all got to be too much. A few weeks into September, 2016, I collapsed in the kitchen, and there was a whole lot more nothing than I was used to. At Mountain Crest, the mental health clinic in Fort Collins, I was taken into an office for a few hours to talk about meds, alcohol, interactions, and so on.
With my new-found sobriety under my belt, I started getting back into the furry thing, the healthier way of filling a tiny corner that infinitely empty space with meaning.
I ran or helped run six panels at a convention, was art track lead, and got to spend time with five other members of the polycule being huge furry nerds.
I started editing a furry fiction anthology, Arcana, based around the major arcana of the RWS tarot deck.
I ran for — and was elected — president of the Furry Writers’ Guild.
Those few months when I was burning too bright in an attempt to light up vast, crenelated spaces of nothing caught up with me. I borrowed a little too much time from the future and that nothing started winning out. Again. I wrote a will. I wrote a Note. I collapsed again. All that nasty stuff.
All of the stuff that I loved felt poisoned to me, tainted by the fact that I burned so hard in an attempt to light up all this nothing a little better. I started feeling forced to like these things because I was trammeled by this indescribably empty space with them.
But I had I forgot that I do love them. Earnestly and with all my heart.
I love my projects. I love my jobs and that I can work on them. I love writing a thousand unapologetic words about my relationship with furry and depression. I love furry.
I just need to engage in a healthy manner.